I was greatly disturbed last night when I read on the internet that San Francisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams were sentenced to up to 18 months in prison pending an appeal. These are the guys who wrote the book Game of Shadows, which uncovered many details about the Balco steroid investigation, including outting numerous athletes who used steroids. The fact that these two reporters are being put in jail for being members of the press disgusts me. As an aspiring journalist myself, I find it unsettling to think that the government no longer wants the press to be watchdogs on society. Don't you think it's kind of ridiculous that guys like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, who used steroids, got no jail time; Greg Anderson, who supplied steroids got 3 months in prison, while these writers are getting up to 18 months for doing their job. Without investigative journalism, crimes against the American people like Watergate would never be uncovered. All you would get is lame press releases from the government stating that everything is going okay. America's Constitution is about the checks and balances, and a free press is one of those checks and balances. These two journalists can't give up their sources because it would essentially end their journalism careers. Even the President of the United States commended these men when their book came out.
These two writers did a better job of uncovering the truth than the actual government and now they are being punished. Think about how much we've actually learned from this Balco grand jury bullshit. We know that Balco existed and that's it. Victor Conte, Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and the other numerous athletes who took steroids were outted by good journalism. Hopefully this decision will be reversed upon appeal, and the bill currently sitting in Congress that will put federal protection on journalists' sources will pass soon. It's the right thing for Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams and it's the right thing for this country of ours.